Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Rabbit Holes With Randy -- Finding Probate Records For My Ancestors Using Record Hints on

 I have found and transcribed hundreds of probate records for my ancestors and published them on this blog and listed them in my Amanuensis Monday post collection.

However, I know that I have missed finding some over the years and wanted a way to find those I've missed without searching for every one of my ancestors in the state probate collections.  

Aha - maybe I can use the "Mining Hints From a Specific Collection" Tool that I've used for other record collections.  I have a very mature Ancestry Member Tree with over 200,000 Record Hints, including the probate record collections.  

The most deceased ancestors I have are from Massachusetts, so I went to the "Massachusetts, U.S., Wills and Probates, 1635-1991" collection and noted that the Ancestry database number is 9069 (it's in the URL).  

So if I use my Tree Number ("treenum" = 113002012) and the Ancestry database number ("dbas" = 9069) in the URL to get record Hints from my tree for this database  ( I get over 200 record hints for persons in my database (in alphabetical order):

For the first two Hints, I checked my files and I already have found and transcribed those, so I will "Ignore" them.  Note that the Hint list helpfully shows the relationships to me!

Further down the list, I see Joseph Allen (7th great-grandfather) and Ralph Allen (8th great-grandfather).  

Checking my Amanuensis Monday list, I already have Joseph's will transcribed.  But I don't have Ralph's!  I clicked on the image to see the record summary for Ralph Allen:

I clicked on the record image thumbnail to see Ralph Allen's handwritten will:

There are two pages for Ralph Allen's probate record in Barnstable County, Massachusetts - the will and a short inventory.  I downloaded them from Ancestry, renamed them, and stored them in the Ralph Allen family file directory on my computer.  I will transcribe it on one of these Mondays and add it to the Notes for Ralph Allen and to the Amanuensis Monday list.

I browsed through the rest of the over 200 entries in the Record Hint list for this Massachusetts Ancestry record collection, and found several more probate records for my Massachusetts ancestors that I have not captured (e.g., Henry Howland 1670, Nicholas Busby-1657, John Eaton-1658, etc.).

Then I went through the New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire Probate Records on and found several more probate records.  I need to do more on Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and California to find even more.  

So this was a very profitable two hours down this rabbit hole - and the results will provide me more blog fodder and information about my ancestors.  

This "Mining Hints From a Specific Collection" Tool works for many of Ancestry's collections - but only for the top 10% (by number of records) of their collections which provide Record Hints.  I use it occasionally when I'm searching for something different to do in my research.  

Unfortunately, Ancestry has not been very careful in indexing these probate record collections - I often find probate papers for unindexed families with the indexed papers.  Note that in the third image that they have indexed other names found in the record - this is new and good.

Note that the link I used is specific to my Ancestry Member Tree - you will have to find your Ancestry Member Tree Number and substitute it for my tree number to make it work for you.

It's important to remember that Ancestry does not automatically find Record Hints for every person in your Ancestry Member Tree.  They provide Hints every day for a few persons in your AMT (probably randomly), but if you change something in a profile of a person, or the person appears on the screen of your Tree (pedigree or family views), then Hints will be generated.  So the user can "stimulate" Hints for persons in their AMT by looking at their tree and clicking to see more ancestors or descendants of a profile.  


Disclosure:  I have had a fully paid subscription since 2000. has provided material considerations for travel expenses to meetings, and has hosted events and meals that I have attended in Salt Lake City, in past years.

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uk genealogy hunter said...

Thank you for that hint.

I've been pondering how to handle my Hints list as it is way too big to go through one at a time and I have wondered how to just extract a specific set of records. And now I know how to do it.

Thanks again


Aylarja said...

I am a long-time Ancestry user, and am a little embarrassed to admit I didn't know about this fantastic way of searching a record collection against one of my trees. I just tried it, and found a record I hadn't come across before! Thank you for passing this along.